“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. This quotation by Dr Samuel Johnson is undoubtedly true. Having spent yesterday in London I think I would add that when
a man is tired he would be well advised to stay out of London in order to preserve his life. The crowds around Big Ben and Westminster bridge were so dense that it was almost impossible to get along the pavement and pedestrians are forced out into the road. The situation was made far worse by seven (7) grubby men dressed as the queen in utterly dilapidated costumes and eleven (11) 3 card trick players with their coterie of stooges. I am not yet a completely miserable old man but if I have to shuffle off the old mortal coil I’d rather it was not by being squashed by a London cab. I believe that the queens will pose for photos with gullible tourists. Venetian carnival it ain’t.
However, my trip was wonderful. Last week I went to a country house and came across a mosaic by Boris Anrep. I learned that he also did the floor in the entrance to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Since London is only a short train trip I found myself looking at this fabulous piece of art that I had walked on so many times, but had never seen. Innocently I decided to take a photo. At once an official advised me that I was not allowed to photograph the works of art. I did point out that people were scuffing and treading all manner of substance onto the floor. He advised me with great courtesy that this was
acceptable as long as no one photographed the vandalism in progress.
I won’t drone on about the history of the work but here is a link. For me the most interesting aspect is the depiction of his lover and patron Maud Russell as “Folly”. How little we think of what is under our feet. Poets like William Wordsworth and Jo VonBargen have seen infinities in blades of grass and the simplest of flowers. These images from other minds become the torch in the darkness of the self conscious mind. Oh – poetry, how your tiny voice whispers amongst the tumult of it all. Yes – and in a sense the whole of ART is a tumult with its pantheons of schools, critics, apologists, galleries. libraries, soothsayers and junkies. All of it, verbal and pictorial, reduces to the language with which we speak to ourselves. Inchoate and debased, it is the pornography of seething crowds and the frustration of intelligence before the dumb shrine of mystery. Only poetry works. Only poetry works.
Dear me – I do go on a bit don’t you think?
PS. The captions under the mosaic photos are by me, not any kind of official title. Looking at the floor, these were my humble vibes about two souls now quiet but speaking still.